It's been a long time coming, but the Musaic Smart HiFi systems are finally due to start shipping in the next few weeks and we will have the first limited UK stock available on the 15th October!
When we originally announced our intention to add the Musaic players to our ever-expanding product portfolio there were raised eyebrows from certain corners of the Home Automation community - why choose Musaic over other readily available brands such as Sonos or Bose?
To be honest, we too were sceptical at first, Mark is firmly in the Sonos camp and I've been a Logitech Squeezebox fan-boy ever since the early days of the SliMP3.
But Musaic intrigued us as they were approaching development from two appealing angles - hi-def audio and becoming part of the Connected Home.
When we took delivery of our prototype devices from this UK start-up earlier this year and unpacked them they certainly didn't disappoint first impressions wise, the Musaic MP10 and MP5 are seriously good looking bits of kit and the weighty feel to them puts them head and shoulders above Sonos and Bose in our opinion.
After firing them up for a first listen we were all instantly hooked and just knew that we had to bring them to our customers when they eventually launched.
From Beethoven to Iron Maiden the sound quality is absolutely amazing. The ability to natively play 24-bit audio really brings any music alive and the built in sub-woofer in the MP10 packs a solid punch!
What took you so long?
Yes, they've been a very long time coming! But to be fair, this is an indication of the quality and care that has gone into developing the Musaic players and the supporting infrastructure.
This is actually a refreshing change - trying so hard to launch the products when they are ready, not just to meet some self-imposed marketing deadline - other manufacturers please take note, yes I'm talking to you VERA & Fibaro!
Over the next six months or so after receiving the prototypes we worked closely with the developers at Musaic to fine-tune both the firmware in the players themselves and the supporting smart-phone and tablet Apps.
This was quite a long process as not only were Vesternet playing a part in the development cycle but there were many hundreds of Kickstarter backers that had also received prototypes to test.
Feedback from multiple sources has really helped Musaic to produce an impressive end result due to the diversity of all those testers - different tastes in music, a variety of smart-phones / tablets, strange network configurations and a wide range of expectations all played a part in honing the players into the final production ready versions.
So it's perfect then?
Well nothing is ever perfect, but Musaic comes pretty close :-)
The time put into development has really paid off as many of the initial teething problems, bugs and niggles that you would expect with any new product have been fixed and resolved prior to launch.
The software is able to be updated over the internet which greatly eases any worries, plus we have seen the roadmap of new features that Musaic will be rolling out - this will allow the capabilities of the Musaic players to grow over time.
Musaic plays all your music, whether it be from local UPnP or DLNA sources from your NAS or from streaming services such as Spotify, Napster and several morey. And because Musaic works natively with those streaming Apps, you can stream music from the App interface that you know and love.
That's not to say that the Musaic Apps are poor, far from it, they look and work great on iOS and Android so for finer control Musaic has you covered across all your connected devices!
The ability to sync multiple players together around the house also works well, great for loud rocking parties or gentle whole-house background ambiance.
Plays well with others
As mentioned above, part of the appeal of the Musaic players are the Home Automation capabilities, which makes them somewhat unique amongst their peers.
In this age of IOT and IFTTT it's important for devices to be able to interact with each other in as many ways as possible and during our initial discussions with the Musaic developers it was clear that one of their primary goals was to make their devices play a big part in the Connected Home.
Out-of-the-box there's support for LightwaveRF natively, by this we mean that the Musaic players have the LightwaveRF 433MHz protocol built in - there's no need for the expense of an extra gateway or controller.
Control of LightwaveRF dimmers, relays and sockets is available from the Musaic App or from the "Home Control" buttons on the players themselves. Set-up is simple as is the norm with LightwaveRF, just a few button presses to pair the Musaic player to your devices.
On / Off and dimming of LightwaveRF devices functions perfectly as the Musaic players are able to send Scene / Mood commands in the same way that a LightwaveRF Mood Controller does!
Now you can start your music playing AND set your home lighting to "Jazz Mood" from the same device and App :-)
Hue and Others
Other systems such as Hue are planned in the near future - technically any system that can be accessed over the WiFi or Ethernet network could be controlled from the Musaic players.
Imagine being woken in the morning with music from your favourite radio station, your blinds gradually opening letting the sunshine into your room, your WiFi coffee maker told to prepare your morning cuppa and your bath run to your perfect temperature.
It's this type of "blue-sky" thinking from the Musaic developers that really excites us!
Controlling other systems is all well and good, but what about actually controlling the Musaic players themselves?
No problem, with UPnP and DLNA protocols built in it's possible to have full control over the music capabilities of the device. Musaic also includes AllJoyn functionality so the more technical users can interact using this exciting new technology from the All Seen Alliance.
The Musaic developers also appreciate that the technologies mentioned above might not be suitable for everyday users, so they're hard at work implementing their own HTTP "REST" based API.
This will use simple HTTP commands to control the Musaic players - in the preview that we've seen there are commands for retrieving the current status, controlling functions such as play / pause / volume and adding to the current playlist.
There's also the possibility of playing built in sound effects, speaking the time AND a "text-to-speech" interface - these will all be fantastic additions to the system and we can imagine many creative uses for this type of functionality.
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Which one should you buy?
As you might be able to tell from the rest of this post, we really like the Musaic players!
Currently available in two models, take a look at the specifications below.
This is the entry-level player featuring 2 x 18W RMS amplifiers and 2 x full range high excursion drivers. It sounds fantastic in smaller rooms such as kitchens or bedrooms.
Stepping up to the higher end MP10 gets you 2 x 15W RMS amplifiers outputting to 2 x mid-range / tweeter drivers and a further 30W RMS dedicated amplifier driving a subwoofer. This is the one to get for your lounge, play room or office!
Personally I will slowly be replacing my ageing Logitech devices over the coming months, it's a significant investment but history has proven that spending cash on decent hardware will be worth it in the long run.
The first stock in the UK is due with us on the 15th October, these will sell out fast so place your orders now to ensure that you're amongst the first customers world-wide to receive one of these fantastic music players!